This week's Official UK Singles Chart
They call it the "Brits effect" - the otherwise unexplained surge in sales for acts whose music featured or who waltzed off with the prizes at the British record industry's annual award ceremony. Most years there are one or two noteworthy leaps in support for the acts which have benefitted from some useful prime time TV exposure, but I can't quite remember a year like this one in which just about every big chart story of the week has some kind of Brits connection.
Let's deal with album sales first of all, which is where most the effect is felt. Sure enough double award winners Kings Of Leon charge back to Number One with Only By The Night, followed hard on the heels of Best British Album Rockferry by Duffy which races back to Number 4, only denied a Top 3 place by the expected strong arrival of Morrissey's Years Of Refusal which arrives at Number 3. Seldom Seen Kid by Best British Group winners Elbow charges 23-5, We Started Nothing by the Ting Tings (Best British Breakthrough, whatever that means) charges 33-8 and there are also strong placings for Seasick Steve (Number 9) and Coldplay (Number 15) with a widely expected chart return for the Pet Shop Boys' hits collection Pop Art which re-charts at Number 19 following their medley performance in the wake of their Outstanding Contribution award. So far, so in line with expectations.
It is on the ever moveable singles chart however that the run really starts. Leading the charge in extraordinary fashion are Kings Of Leon whose Brits performance moves Use Somebody to a 12-3 leap, returning the single to the Top 3 a full 10 weeks after it first peaked at Number 2. Former Number One Sex On Fire also rebounds, moving 19-14 for its highest position for five weeks.
The two leading contenders for Best British Single both return to the Top 40. They may have been pipped at the post, but Coldplay surge 45-27 with Viva La Vida whilst eventual winner The Promise by Girls Aloud returns to the Top 40 after five weeks away at Number 39. Both older singles advance at the expense of what are theoretically the "current" singles for both acts. Coldplay's Life In Technicolor 2 collapses to Number 74 whilst The Loving Kind by Girls Aloud (ironically penned by the Outstanding Contributions awardees) drops to Number 43.
Also making at Top 40 return is One Day Like This by Elbow. First released in June last year, the single has so far spent 15 weeks on the Top 75 in a variety of sporadic runs, reappearing every so often after the tune is used either on a TV soundtrack or as a heavily featured part of the advertising for the Seldom Seen Kid album. This week's surge marks its fourth appearance inside the Top 40 and for the moment matches the peak it scaled second time around in late July last year. The closest this most fondly regarded of British acts have ever come to a mainstream hit single is a trio of Number 19 hits, and it would be nice to think that one consequence of their Brit recognition would be a proper chart run for their most acclaimed single to date. [Which, as history now records, would indeed eventually come. But not for another three and a half years].
Lower down there is an expected surge for the Ting Tings who reappear at Number 58 with That's Not My Name whilst Queen of the evening Duffy sees her two most famous singles also stage a chart comeback. Warwick Avenue is at Number 71 with Mercy making even greater strides at Number 60 - exactly a year since it was locked firmly at the top of the chart. Having run through some of their greatest hits (with the odd underdressed guest star), the Pet Shop Boys also have a sprinkling of tracks dotted around the muddier end of the chart. Leading the charge are 1986 Number One West End Girls at Number 90 and the 1987 Christmas Number One Always On My Mind at Number 97.
Returning to more contemporary matters, it almost seems a chart footnote to acknowledge the continuing run of The Fear by Lily Allen at Number One, there now for a fourth straight week. There is similarly no move for the record she replaced, Just Dance by Tennant and Lowe's new best friend Lady Gaga which remains locked at Number 2, even if she did have to fight off a challenge from the aforementioned Use Somebody. Meanwhile, her second chart single of the moment Poker Face continues to make good progress and moves 22-15 in a move that suggests she could well have two Top 10 hits in fairly short order.
A busy Top 10 sees a pleasing four-place rise for Omen by the Prodigy, this now enough to make the single their highest charting release since their back to back Number One singles Firestarter and Breathe way back in 1996. Shontelle moves 10-6 with T-Shirt whilst there is a five-place rise for Whatcha Think About That which returns both the Pussycat Dolls and Missy Elliott to the Top 10 at Number 10. Previous single I Hate This Part broke the Dolls' career-opening streak of Top 10 singles when it peaked at Number 15 back in January whilst Missy Elliott hasn't featured on a track that has ventured this high since her own Lose Control hit Number 7 in the summer of 2005.
Take a deep breath because the chart stories don't end there. In one of the more shocking developments of the week, U2 can only manage what is for them an unusually low Number 12 entry for new single Get On Your Boots, this despite the band featuring as part of the Brits ceremony in the week. Taken from the forthcoming new album No Line On The Horizon, the new single has suffered rather from a lack of online interest which has meant it has been reliant on its limited number of physical sales to chart. Not since the very start of their career has a brand new U2 single failed to reach the Top 10, and although it has only missed by a whisker and it would be wrong to write it off just yet, there is a good chance that Get On Your Boots could become their first "proper" release to miss the Top 10 since If God Will Send His Angels similarly limped to Number 12 in December 1997. Let's keep things in perspective here - given that they are just shy of 30 years of recording together, the fact that they can even have a Number 12 hit with consummate ease is something at which to marvel.
After underperforming slightly with a Number 44 entry last week, some hefty promotional work has paid off for Miley Cyrus who shoots to Number 16 with Fly On The Wall. That is a big improvement on the Number 25 peak of her last single 7 Things and bodes well for her chances of beating debut single See You Again which made Number 11 last September.
One place behind at Number 17 is Dead And Gone from TI and Justin Timberlake which makes a 13 place climb this week having been on the rise for the best part of the last month. Effectively this single is a favour returned after the rapper played the guest-starring role on Trousersnake's own My Love which hit Number 2 at the tail end of 2006. Just to prove that eventually all R&B stars end up appearing on each other's records, Justin Timberlake's last chart appearance was as a guest star on Rihanna's Rehab whilst T.I. himself was last seen on his own Number 2 hit Live Your Life alongside a certain Bajan guest star whose name I'm sure I don't have to spell out.
[Superstar debut klaxon!] The parade of new hits just keeps on coming as we hit the Top 30. New in at Number 22 is Love Story from US country star Taylor Swift. Marketing C&W acts on these shores always requires a bit of creative thinking, so it is probably no surprise that the track chosen for her first ever UK release is the least "country" track from her second album Fearless. Nonetheless promoting the untouched album track would still have been a step too far, hence what has charted here is the "International Radio Mix" which refreshingly retains the banjo plucking from the album version but which adds a bassline, drums and an electric guitar solo to properly Euro it up in true Shania Twain style. Whilst purists may bemoan this it does at least mean that Love Story works perfectly as a breezy uplifting pop ballad that more than deserves to turn her into a star outside her own country. Consider this first chart placing a step in the right direction and watch it rocket next week.
Those who prefer their music a little meatier may prefer Everybody from Rudenko which arrives at Number 24. The Bassline club track runs the risk of being a little formulaic, right down to its scantily clad booty-shaking video which I include below for research purposes only of course, but lead singer Charlene Reena works hard to inject the single with just the right level of sensuality.
Don't like that? Then go for the track one place below as Gary Go arrives at Number 25 with his debut hit Wonderful. The singer-songwriter is being acclaimed as pop's next big thing with a lucrative support slot with Take That lined up for the summer. With an image that is best described as a cross between Buddy Holly and Brad from Rocky Horror, he is a most unlikely looking pop star, but if the rest of his material is half as appealing as his debut hit then all the hype could well be justified.
Meanwhile, there is more bright and breezy guitar pop at Number 31 as Honey Ryder arrive on the chart with Fly Away. You may remember they are the pair who are aiming to go it alone as far as possible, funding their recordings by selling shares in their future profits and marketing themselves to investors as a business startup. Their first single Numb crept to Number 32 last August, since when they have toured with Will Young and performed at a variety of industry showcases. My lavish praise for the first hit is one of many superlatives from reviewers that garlands their MySpace page [I still feel a surge of pride at that memory], so I feel almost honour bound to give them a new quote. Take it from me that Fly Away is the kind of effortless radio-friendly pop that was supposed to have either being uninvented or fallen out of fashion long ago. It is my favourite kind of music - the sort that makes you feel good about liking it and even happier to be alive to hear it. [You utter creep Masterton, you have no integrity at all].
Finally(!) for this week, something I spent time on the podcast last week boldly predicting didn't actually come to pass. There did exist the possibility that a prime-time TV would make a small chart invasion, thanks to a head to head challenge on Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway for the presenters to each record their own charity single and release them midweek. As viewers to the show will have learned on Saturday night, Team Dec were the winners, selling more copies of their rendition of Wake Me Up Before You Go Go than Team Ant who were some distance behind with their cover of Don't Stop Moving. Despite copious press coverage of the stunt and some hard promotional work by the pair (including a visit to my office during the week which saw the tallest member of the team provoke barely suppressed mirth by crouching on the floor for a photo opportunity) none of this actually translated into significant sales. Maybe the fact that the singles were only available at 7Digital via a link on the ITV website, or maybe just that both records are a bit rubbish was to blame, but on the official chart this week Team Dec languish at Number 64 and Team Ant at a mere Number 79. Ah well.